Health and social care services are predicated upon the implicit assumption that families fill the gaps in service provision and, in the case of older people particularly, that the people supporting them are largely their adult children.
Adult children provide help in different ways: from low-level support tasks such as accompanying a parent to medical appointments, helping with cleaning and shopping, reminding their parent to take medication and some personal care tasks, such as changing dressings to high-level support from mediating with health and social services, looking after their parent's finances to being their part-time or full time carer.
Our health and care systems do not operate in a way that effectively supports people without family. Cuts in public spending on adult social care over recent years means that there has been a reduction in the types of services that provide lower-level support and a rise in the eligibility threshold reducing access to statutory support for many older people unless their needs are deemed critical or substantial. At the same time, many voluntary organisations have lost funding for help-at-home services and advocacy services. These services which are particularly crucial for people without family, are under severe pressure financially and are often only funded to deliver advocacy required by law e.g. under the Care Act 2014 and independent mental health advocacy.
Consequently, people ageing without children can be left without support and help at a time when they need it most.
We are looking to develop a peer-led network bringing together people ageing without children as a community, locally and across the UK through:
Local groups where people ageing without children can come together for peer support, to share experiences, obtain information and work with local organisations to ensure that the needs of people ageing without children are included in policy, planning and services for older people. The local groups will be run by volunteers ageing without children and supported by AWwoC;
A private online community hosted on our website where people ageing without children can share experiences, discuss issues and get support from other members;
Events and workshops on matters of relevance to our community to help plan for a positive later life without children and to support those already struggling with issues; and Bi-annual conferences we are planning to hold the next conference in 2020
Your support would be gratefully received.